Selling Weapons to Argentina

There is, and always has been, a stench of hypocrisy around the arms trade but we grudgingly accept it because we are rather good at it and it adds considerably to the nations wealth, directly and indirectly.

Your typical left wing rant about selling arms usually does so in the comfort provided by those very sales but that is another issue.

You may have seen this report in relation to Russia and the Ukraine but the report by the House of Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls is well worth a read on another country of concern, Argentina.

The report has the snappy title;

Scrutiny of Arms Exports and Arms Controls (2014): Scrutiny of the Government’s UK Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2012, the Government’s Quarterly Reports from October 2012 to September  2013, and the Government’s policies on arms exports and international arms control issues

Apart from a bit of nonsense about barrel bombs which spectacularly misses the point of what they are it lists Argentina as a country of concern to the committee.

I am going to extract the section on Argentina in its entirety;

156. The Committees continue to conclude that it is reprehensible that the Government,  given the relatively recent history of British ships being sunk in the Falklands War by missiles supplied by a fellow NATO member and the statement by the Argentinian Foreign Minister, as reported on 5 February 2013, regarding Argentinian control of the Falkland Islands, when he said “I don’t think it will take another 20 years”, is unwilling to lobby other Governments to make the same change in arms exports policy to Argentina as that announced by the British Government on 26 April 2012. The Committees recommend that the Government should do so. (See paragraph 541 of Volume II of this Report.)

157. The Committees recommend that the Government states in its Response which other NATO member countries, and other arms exporting countries to Argentina have now  made the same change in arms exports policy to Argentina as that announced by the  British Government on 26 April 2012. (See paragraph 542 of Volume II of this Report.)

Is there any reason we could not ask our NATO partners not to sell weapons to Argentina, at least specific types of strategically important weapons?

is it reasonable of us to ask?

I don’t think there is.

It goes on to open a bit of a mystery

58. Following the Government’s arms exports Quarterly Report for July–September 2013,
the Committees put the following questions to the Government regarding exports to
Argentina:

Given the current political tensions between the United Kingdom and Argentina and the Foreign Secretary’s letter to the Chairman of 26 April 2012, the Committees wish know why was an OIEL including artillery ammunition, components for artillery, components for combat naval vessels, components for decoying/countermeasure equipment, components for launching/handling/control equipment for missiles, components for launching/handling/control equipment for munitions, components for military electronic equipment, components for military guidance/navigation equipment, components for military radars, components for naval communications equipment, components for naval electrical/electronic equipment, components for naval engines, components for naval gun installations/mountings, components for naval guns, components for weapon control equipment, decoying/countermeasure equipment, general naval vessel components, launching/handling/control equipment for missiles, launching/handling/control equipment for munitions, military communications equipment, military electronic equipment, military guidance/navigation equipment, military radars, naval communications equipment, naval electrical/electronic equipment, signalling devices, smoke canisters, smoke/pyrotechnic ammunition, technology for artillery, technology for combat naval vessels, technology for decoying/countermeasure equipment, technology for general naval vessel components, technology for launching/handling/control equipment for missiles, technology for launching/handling/control equipment for munitions, technology for military communications equipment, technology for military electronic equipment, technology for military guidance/navigation equipment, technology for military radars, technology for naval communications equipment, technology for naval electrical/electronic equipment, technology for naval engines, technology for naval gun installations/mountings, technology for naval guns, technology for signalling devices, technology for smoke canisters, technology for weapon control equipment, training artillery ammunition and weapon control equipment approved?

The Government response was:

The OIEL was approved because all items in the licence are for the sole use of a non-Argentinean naval mission and are not to be re-exported or sold for export to a Third Party. We had no Criteria concerns.

Does anyone know what this means in English

Evidently, not the committee

As usual, the MoD is being evasive, unhelpful and disrespectful to a Parliamentary Committee?

They go on to ask;

The Committees recommend that the Government in its Response explains:

a) what use the non-Argentinian naval mission has for items such as artillery  ammunition and components for artillery;

b) how export approval of the above goods for export to Argentina can be  reconciled with the Business Secretary’s change of policy on arms exports to Argentina in his Written Ministerial Statement of 26 April 2012 in which he  Scrutiny of Arms Exports and Arms Controls (2014) 47 said: “In future no licences will be granted for military or dual-use goods for military end users in Argentina unless there are compelling exceptional reasons to do so”; and

c) why the Government approved the above goods to be exported to Argentina rather than to the country of the non-Argentinian naval mission referred to.

The original issue arose in 2012.

We might contrast this with a report from Mercopress that describes the poor state of the Argentine armed forces but still, clarification is needed I think.

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